Last week we had a blizzard (ALL weekend long); this week a heat wave. Last week we hibernated, ate too much and complained about our luck–the weather in DC was WAY warmer than here in the DESERT; this week we promised ourselves that we would get OUT of the house and enjoy Jordan. We hashed a plan last Saturday, in the midst of the blizzard (after checking out the upcoming forecast–it said it was going to be sunny and hot) and decided to hike the Soapmaker’s Trail in Ajloun. What I love about this trail is that at the end of it–and it’s only a two-hour hike–there’s a soap factory AND gift store (part of RSCN’s (Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature) efforts to help support the local economy). So you’re basically hiking to a store. Love it!
We packed our daypack with water and trail mix and were all set to leave until we searched for directions. Upon searching, we noticed that the trails in Ajloun DO NOT open until April 1st. We called to make sure this was right and were told ‘inshallah, we will open April 1.”
Plan B. We decided to go to another RSCN location–the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex. As the RSCN website describes it:
“Perched at the edge of the Zara mountain range, between Ma’in hot springs and the Dead Sea basin, the Dead Sea Panoramic Complex offers some of the most spectacular views in the Kingdom. From the observation terrace you can absorb breathtaking vistas over the Jordan Rift Valley and Dead Sea basin and you can dine in style watching sunrise or sunset over the mountains of the Holy Land. There is also a large and fascinating museum devoted to the natural and cultural history of the Dead Sea, a Nature Shop and a range of other attractions and activities suitable for both adults and children.”
The place is stunning–both architecturally and view-wise. It would be a perfect venue for a wedding with the views and the restaurant…but I don’t know anyone getting married, so nevermind. Best of all–there was hardly ANYONE else there, so we had the restaurant almost exclusively to ourselves.
The restaurant, “Arabic style with a hint of Lebanese” is operated by Evason Ma’in Hot Springs (a neighboring hotel/resort that we haven’t stayed at…yet). The food was amazing! Generally I stick to my favorites, shish tawouk or mixed grill, but feeling a bit crazy (perhaps from all of the glorious sunshine), I ordered something new–musakhkhan (chicken seasoned with sumac, an abundant amount of onions and served on top of pita that soaks up all of the chicken juices and oniony flavors). It was served on a hot griddle placed on a wood serving piece (similar to Mexican fajitas). [I wasn’t sure what sumac was, so I looked it up–it’s a spice made from the ground dried berries of a bush that grows wild throughout the Middle East. Sumac has a sour and vaguely lemony taste.] We also ordered a cold mezza–hummos Beiruty–chickpeas, tahini, hot paprika, parsley, and fava beans.
The Panoramic center has a lovely museum and TWO stores: one is a Rivage, Dead Sea product store–you can buy these product anywhere, AND the RSCN store. I love RSCN products–the teas, soaps, jewelry…too many choices so I got overwhelmed and bought nothing. I’m saving my money for the day when we hike the Soap Maker’s Trail and end at the soap factory that sells the soaps that are sold at stores like the Panoramic Center.
34 thoughts on “A View Fit for a King–Dead Sea Panoramic Center”
Love it! The pictures are gorgeous and the chicken sounds very tasty!
Thanks! It was a great day!
Awesome pictures! I love the view off the restaurant terrace. That would be an amazing place to have a meal.
The pictures on our crummy little camera don’t do the place justice. It’s such a spectacular place!
That hummus looks delish!
Oh the sights look soooo good but that chicken dish looked like something I would kill for.. Here we are just eating at Palumbo’s Rest in Temecula, when you are around the world seeing all wonderful sights.. We took the your car out for a spin yesterday and went to our favorite restaurant and guess who was having a bowl of angel hair pasta next to us, a French Bull Dog…Very well behaved and wow, big ears.. Thought of you all and how well Shanti would behave eating there.. Keep the pictures and the series going.. Dad
Shanti can only dream of eating a bowl of pasta. His regimen consists of Nature’s Choice and cat poop when he sneaks out without us watching.
Wonderful post! You fuel my wanderlust.
…and you’re fueling my literary lust.
It was hot in the dessert? Lunch looked really good but more importantly, what did you buy? Do I get some soap. BTW I’m almost out of the Christmas evoo. I would like to reorder some. Thanks a million!
Really? Is that even nice to make fun of my spelling deficiencies? You are so mean. I wonder who others would say is the nice sister. Certainly not you. Perhaps it was hot in the dessert. Maybe I was referring to being in the middle of a cinnamon bun. Forget the evoo. I’ll send it to Emily instead.
Holy moley, that chicken dish sounded excellent. Also, what lovely hiking terrain. Kinda reminds me of torrey pines without the pines! Glad you rode out the blizzard!
The Chicken was delicious. Another day in paradise!
I loved seeing you and Raj. The views are spectacular. I enjoy hearing about the river Jordan, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Beautiful views but so arid.
Hungry after hearing about all that food! Beautiful views.
The food was great and we enjoyed the view over a cup of tea.
Loved the pictures and the commentary. I am looking forward to reading about your trip on the soap trail – when it comes to pass!
Thank you. Hopefully the trail will be open in April.
I loooove hummus! Do you make it at home as well? It’s still winter in NYC, but do have to say it has been a ‘mild’ winter, but seeing the sunshine where you’re at is making me jealous. 🙂
I love hummos too! I’ve made it once since I’ve been here and it cost more to make it than to buy it. The best thing in Jordan is the pita bread. You can buy a huge bag of freshly made white or whole wheat for 13 cents a bag.
Plan B worked out very well – thanks for sharing your lovely day.
It certainly did. Good thing we didn’t have to resort to plan C–staying cooped up in the house for another day!
With views like that I’d be hard pressed to focus on the food!
I love all of the really great pictures you post and seeing the way you adapt to life in a place that’s so not like the US at all.. I got tagged for both at the same time so I am awarding you both the Kreativ Blogger Award and the Versatile Blogger Award.
Keep up with the awesome posts!
What a beautiful view (and photo’s!)
Who needs great food when you’ve got a great view? Lucky for us the food was great too.
Wow what a gorgeous view! I would love to enjoy a meal at that restaurant. So adding this to my ‘places to go’ list. BTW, thanks for dropping by my blog the other day =)
Thanks for dropping by my blog. Definitely add the Dead Sea to your bucket list.
friend introduced me to sumac (sa’tar) at the Royal Wedding last April and I’ve been toasting pitas with olive oil and a generous pinch ever since. yum!
That sounds really good. I’ll have to try it!
I want to trade jobs with you!
My little sister spent time in Jeruselum and did a tour to the dead sea. She was amazed by the architecture which was dotted about and the fact (that during the times it was made) it was all done with man/slave power & not the modern machinery we have today.
There was one section which was a whole entire mountain that was moved from one side of a river, to the other. Insane yet incredible.